Summertime woes

Sweet summer night and I’m stripped to my sheets

Forehead is leaking, my AC squeaks and

A voice from the clock says, “You’re not gonna get tired”

My bed is a pool and the walls are on fire

So begins the new single by Animal Collective, ‘Summertime Clothes’. Their solution to being unable to sleep in the oppressive heat is to go out and walk through the city (only to be confronted by the smell of trash).

I used to do that when I was younger. I’d slip out of the house and wander around as dawn broke. It’s quite a strange experience to walk around at 4am, when it’s broad daylight and there is no-one around. It’s good, but it doesn’t help you get to sleep. But if you stay in bed, by the time it cools down sufficiently (if it ever does) the sun is ready to rise again and you face the other problem of sleeping at summer — it’s too damn bright.

Longer days. I used to like that aspect of summer. This year I am not so sure. Several times I have woken up convinced that it must be morning, so intense is the sunlight. I raise my head only to look at the clock and see that it is something like 4:30am and I have had barely had two hours of sleep. Back to sleep I go, waking up every so often because of the brightness. I hide my head under my blanket, but that only makes the overbearing heat worse.

This isn’t the first time I have struggled with the summer climate. Three years ago I wrote a short and simple article entitled “I hate summer“. It got a bit of reaction at first. Later on it sporadically attracted further comments. There would perhaps be a small trickle during our winter, when wilting Antipodeans would vent. When it becomes summer in the northern hemisphere more people join in.

Now it seems to have turned into a bit of a self-organising support group — a collection of like-minded people who are united only by the fact that presumably they all one day turned to Google and said “I hate summer“. There are now a few regulars that leave comments on that post, which recently passed the 100 comments mark. It’s been one of those unexpected successes of this website.

It’s good to know that you’re not the only one who dislikes the summer. Many like the sun and the heat. In fact, it’s normally taken as a given that hot weather is a good thing. Not for me.

To my fragile Scottish complexion, the sun is just like a giant death ray in the sky. There is the small fact that it provides almost all of the energy on our planet. But I’d never guess it, given that it seems to sap all of the energy out of me.

Then again, I don’t mind sunlight so much. A bit of sun can’t be bad. It keeps those vitamin D levels in check. On a pleasant day I like to walk in the sun. A cool, sunny winter day can’t be beaten.

The real problem with summer is the intensity of the sun and the heat that comes with it. In fact, the sun could be away completely and it will be even worse. Is there anything worse than an overcast, cloudy, rainy, muggy, humid day? It is unbearably bad.

It’s not just the high temperatures, which might be bearable for a period. It’s the fact that once you get too hot, you reach some kind of tipping point, and it’s impossible to escape it for the rest of the day. A cool drink, for instance, provides only transient relief.

Some people say that winter is just as bad because it is too cold. That may be so in a way, but there is something evil about summer’s heat in that it is truly impossible to escape it. After all, if it’s too cold during winter, it’s not a problem — just throw another layer of clothes on. If it’s too warm during summer, there is not much you can do about it without getting arrested.

Moreover, my nose turns into a tap. It is not just the hay fever, which I am not sure if I have. But I certainly suffer a lot from Achoo Syndrome. I get that during winter too, if it’s sunny enough. But when it’s cooler, sneezing is something you can shake off fairly easily. During summer you cannot have a sneezing fit without having to reach for a towel as a result of the perspiration it causes.

More nose-related woe comes when you consider the summery stench. The smell of rubbish has already been alluded to by Animal Collective. But more than that, you cannot take a simple trip to the supermarket without your nostrils being assaulted by the BO of some middle-aged fat man who thinks it is the done thing to walk around with his top off. The sight is equally bad, especially when so many people walk around thinking nothing of the fact that they’ve turned the colour of the Forth Bridge.

And for the sake of taste and decency, I am not even going to go into the problems I encounter down there.

As if to prove that the world really has it in for me, I am convinced that my room is by far the hottest in the whole house. I can leave the window open all night and you’d never guess. But if I go for a walk around the house, it feels positively breezy, even in rooms where the window is clamped shut.

The really worrying thing is the fact that all of this summer malarkey adversely affects me so much despite the fact that I live quite far north in a relatively cool country. Indeed, I live on the coast of a peninsula of an island. Here I sit writing this a mere ten minute walk away from the North Sea, struggling to cope with a temperature that is apparently not higher than the teens. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I lived closer to the equator or far inland. It doesn’t bear thinking about.